Low-Impact Abdominal Exercises

Side view of fit young woman doing pilates, working on abdominal muscles. Fitness woman exercising to improve core muscle strength in gym.
Working hard doesn't have to involve impact. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

Strong, defined abs don't require high-impact activity. Stay grounded on a mat or your own two feet and effectively train all the muscles of your belly. In 2001, the American Council on Exercise rated a number of ab exercises for their effectiveness. The best ones are all not only low-impact — they are no impact.

Cape Town, South Africa
A stability ball challenges your balance. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)


The basic crunch is a staple ab exercise that trains the rectus abdominis, the front sheath of your abs. It's inherently low-impact, but the basic version may not be the most impactful. Do the crunch with extended legs or on a stability ball for most effect.


Crunches alone don't target all of the muscles of the core. Planks train the deep transverse abdominis, which helps you stand tall and boosts balance. The classic plank has your torso suspended on your hands or forearms and toes.

Hold your body rigid, with the belly button pulled in toward the spine, for 20 to 90 seconds as a time. Once you master the basic version, add challenge with other options.


Twisting movements train the obliques that exist at the sides of your waist. These muscles help give you a completely defined look and support functional movement, such as rotating and side bending.


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